Monday, March 4, 2013

We're Still Here!!!

Thurs. February 28, 2013

Finally, a new post from Elder and Sister Ivins!  (It's not that they haven't been writing, but we haven't been posting their emails.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of a steady flow of updates from Osijek...)



The New Bridge


Bombed Buildings Done by NATO

The Rice Family--who work for the Air Force


The New Bridge at Night



Mom's New Serbian Birthday Sweater

Četvrtak (Thursday) Velaća 28, 2013

Good morning Dear Family,

We had a nice trip to Srbija to work on the audits there. We are still trying to sort out some things for Serbia so we spent yesterday working all day on it.  Dad is beginning to wonder if he missed his calling in life to be an auditor.  (With all the experience he is getting maybe he will take the test with Christian and they can become a father and son team).  We left early Saturday morning and drove some food to a member who lives about an hour from here.  We arrived at 7:00 am and had a short visit with him and his mother.  Dad offered a prayer in German and it really felt like we had the gift of tongues.  I could understand him and I think both of them did too.  It was a great experience.  We continue to do better in German than Croatian.

We stopped in Novi Sad with the Maughans (Sr. couple who is the Branch Pres. there.)  They are humanitarian missionaries and doing some fun things in Serbia and Bosnia.  They were leaving Monday to head down by the coast to help figure out some water for raspberries.  We left for Beograd and met the District President to do the district audit.  We got to work with him and the missionaries...Elder Bates and Elder Mulder are the zone leaders and both served here in Osijek with us. They came to dinner with us later that night when we finished.  After the audit we drove Pres. Vašića and his 16 year old son home to meet their family.  They are a wonderful family who have been members for 10 years.  They have 7 children which seems a bit rare over here.  The oldest daughter is 21 and their youngest is an 8 month old daughter. They let me hold her for a bit while we talked and I thought about holding Avi and Barrett and felt a bit of heaven.  Their home is a very small apartment but there was such a nice spirit in it and it made us feel good just to be there with them.

It was a nice blessing to go to church the next day in Beograd.  Church is in an old building that has lots of room, a large chapel, class rooms, etc.  Several families come who have joined the church.  There are also a couple of families attending from America who work for the state department and the Air Force. We felt right at home with the little children crawling about, making some noise and the youth blessing and passing the sacrament.  We brought some chocolate chip cookies to share with the missionaries that we made with the cc's Bethany and Andy gave us.  They were a hit with the missionaries in each city where we did the audits.  Sunday evening after doing the audit, we went home with the counselor from America and had dinner with his family.  He and his wife have 5 children and have been in Beograd for about 2 years.  They will go back to America this summer and be re-assigned to another country.  All of the families who work for the US government live in a nice area on a hill outside of Beograd.  They have a really large home and host many people who come from the church.  They had Thanksgiving for 30 and had plenty of room to set up tables in their living room.  We stayed in Beograd 3 nights working on some audit problems and are still trying to figure some things out.

Beograd is a beautiful old city of about 2 million.  The river makes several bends so you can see it from many places in the city.  There are many bridges crossing over the river with a beautiful new one just built a couple of years ago.  Different countries bid on doing the lighting for the bridge and a company from the US won the bid.  We walked about the city early in the morning and late in the afternoon and enjoyed mingling with the people who were very friendly and helpful.  We shopped at a great sweater store that makes very unique and colorful sweaters, skirts and things.  Then we looked for any branch of the bank the church uses in Serbia so we could see about getting some new things working for internet banking, etc. in Serbia.  We walked into one bank to talk with someone who spoke English and after waiting for about an hour we were put with a lady who is the
very one who does things for the church.  We felt the hand of the Lord directing us to her and to this branch of the bank.  We have felt so many times that we have been lead to the right person at the right time and we are so grateful for Heavenly Father’s help.  We have many stories to share with you when we return.

The sisters have had some great success this week with one of their investigators.  Veronika has been scheduled a couple of times for baptism and it keeps getting postponed because she could not quit smoking.  They asked us and several others to pray for her and then went over to visit her.  She told them her friend gave her a cigarette and as she started to smoke it she felt really sick and began to vomit violently.  The sisters told her we had all been praying for her.  The next time just being with her friend who was smoking gave her a headache.  So, she has gone several days now without and is feeling so much better.  Her new date for baptism is March 16th!  She is coming with the sisters to our district conference this Sunday in Zagreb.  We will drive the three of them in with us on Saturday morning and they will stay with a member.  We will stay with Gary and Ann who are coming with the Tanners from Rijeka.  The Tanners will stay at the Mission home and head back to America Tuesday to prepare to be mission president in the new Cebu East Mission in the Philippines.  We think it would be great if they were close enough to Gary and Wilma and could meet them before G and W come home.

We talked with all of our Ivins siblings, except Joyce who is in Arizona with Leilani and Dave.  They are all gathered at Bev and Darwin's for a winter retreat.  They are having a great time together.  It was fun to feel part of them for an hour.  We continue to love our mission and stay busy working to finish up the audits and trying to assist the missionaries with visits and teaching their investigators.  The sisters are bringing a new “British” investigator to lunch with us here today.  We made some cream of tomato soup to go with some bread from the sisters and some biscuits or cakes from the investigator.  We are getting excited to welcome baby Isla into the family.  Christian and Amy just called and assured us they will keep us informed of all that happens. We love you all.  Keep on keeping on.

Thanks for your updates, photos, and love.   Be good and do good.

Love, mom and dad/mutti/bumpa

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